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Goats & Grass

Goats & Grass

Water temp in the upper Miss dropped 14 degrees over the past eek. It is now down to 42 :prime time for walleyes. The River also came up a bunch in this time frame. It is near perfect level right now, but dropping fast.

That’s okay. Walleyes have already started moving toward wintering holes, “stair stepping ” deeper in the water column as temperatures drop into the upper 30s.

Yesterday I found ’em holding in 16-17 fow….right where you would expect with water temp of 42. GRASS was a major issue. Trolling out of the question . Ditto vertical jigging/drifting. The only efficient fishin’ method I could find was snap-jigging blade baits like the Echotail Teddy Cat and B-Fish-n Tackle B-3 after locating pods of potential walleyes cruising at this depth.

Even this technique produced weeds on about every 5th cast. Every 30th cast produced an eager sheep. Every 80 casts or so a walleye/sauger would find the blade.

Usually in fall sheep stage slightly shallower than active eyes. But with transition going on and steadily falling water level the goats are swimmin’ with the marble-eyes.

The significant cold snap triggered daytime deer movement big-time. I sat in a tree behind the house last Sat & Sun. Passed on 7 deer Saturday and arrowed a 147″ buck on sunday afternoon. He only had a 16″ inside spread and lacked an h-3 measurement on the L. mainbeam. A couple more inches would have made this 6 1/2 yr old heavy-beamed brute with double brow tines a ‘trophy’ by definition. You can’t eat horns. But weighing close to 200 lbs. there will be enough for boat treats–pepperjack/jalapeno/pineapple sticks–from Edgewood locker to feed clients for next year.

An overnite 14 degree drop in water temp is a shocker to fish. air Temperatures have since moderated and will continue to do so. I expect water temp to stabilize right about 42 degrees and hold here for at least several weeks. This translates into REALLY good walleye fishin’!

The guide biz closes down on Nov, 15. Still have open slots if somebody wants to go. I’ll be on the River pretty much every day, regardless until it locks up with ice.

Lord willin’ next year will be my last for guiding. 50 yrs is enough. But fishin’? Every single day I can launch the boat until i croak.

The tug is the drug. There are only a couple of sensory thrills which equate to having a fat walleye thump a jig and leaning back to feel a serious head shake.

This morning the Admiral has me doing yard work. However, a couple hours on the water is in the cards this afternoon. I only need to catch a couple. maybe a couple more or a half-dozen after that….

My name is Capn. Ted. I am a fishaholic

Serious Fall

Serious Fall

Apologies for not blogging for over a month. Computer problems–and I’ve been too busy fishin’ to get things fixed.

Water temp has been holding steady @ about 55 for several days. Bass are in their last crazy feeding hoo-rah. River is rising like a rocket–almost five feet between this morning and Sat. afternoon.

Ambient temp is supposed to drop 20 degrees late tomorrow afternoon. Tomorrow’s trip will be challenging. But it might be the last, best day for awhile.

Yesterday we boated 108 bass in about 7 hrs. But that was yesterday. River will likely rise 2′ by tomorrow. It takes me at least an hour to figure out the fish every single day–when the River is stable.

Won’t know until tomorrow night if it all came together. The Miss is the most dynamic riverine freshwater fishery in North America. that’s why i love her so!

Now that shiny object issues are (hopefully) resolved I’ll try to blog more frequently. Regardless, don’t rely on me for fishin’ reports. consistent success is all about time on the water.

The River is supposed to rise a couple more feet over the next 72 hrs. The only way to stay on the fish is to be out there. So when the sun comes up in a few hours that’s exactly what i plan to do.

So…thanks for hangin’ in there!Talk soon.

Bass Invasion

Bass Invasion

The only way i can think of NOT to catch bass on the River right now is dropping a six-inch bluegill into the upstream edge of a deep hole with a pyramid sinker hoping a mudcat will find the bait before a bass can swim down to catch it!

Walleyes are still solidly in the September pattern of cruising channel edge sand flats in 9-11 fow and moving to ambush points like the channel ends of wingdams when actively feeding.

Yesterday I spot-locked in the perfect place to intercept them and was rewarded with 8 bass in 8 casts throwing the MR-6.

Either the bluegill pattern on rocky structures is changing…or the bass just get to the bait first. Ditto crappies hanging suspended in wood over at least 10 fow.

A small rake is in the boat now to clear grass from between branches on snags with a slight current to enable getting down to both crappies & gills. Essentially ice fishing by making a hole through the grass.

Fortunately, some very nice pike are feeding on the buck bass. Several 3/4 oz chrome blue Rat-L-Traps have been garwoofled in the past several days when actually looking for bass to educate. All that ate these lures HAD to be good ones. Have NEVER lost a LITTLE fish!

The biggest source of awe has been the baitfish–mostly shad but also schools of river shiners. Sometimes almost dimpling the surface like shiny silver raindrops.

Water temps have fallen to a solid 64. Ten more degrees and the walleye bite will become substantially more active. Weeds will be an issue. A Pulse-R in purple firecracker/chartruese tail on a 1/8 -1/4 Pyrokeet precision jighead is a great weapon when weeds are an issue, with a small barrel swivel about 24 inches up the line a good “bumper” to keep the plastic working effectively perhaps a little longer.

Today the primary target is bass. Pretty much an excercise in catching instead of fishing. In a couple weeks I’m going on vacation. Fishing of course–Eagle Lake out of Andy Myers lodge.

Dad always said “if you can’t go 1st class, stay home”. Andy Myers has my vote as the best Canadian fishing lodge, hands down. The SMB which swim in Eagle Lake are a virtually untapped resource, as most folks fishing these waters are looking for a PB muskie or walleye.

When all environmental conditions are just right, I’ll throw for mongo toothers. Other times walleyes and those honkin’ huge smallies. This work builds a substantial appetite. The food At Andy Myers is without equal.

As of right now I have 8 open days in October and 5 in November before pulling down the guide shingle for another year. Lord willin’ will pull the pin at the end of the ’24 season…and go fishin’ after that ’til my end of days

Record low levels persist

Record low levels persist

We’re within 3″ Mister Twister range of the lowest River level in 35 years going into the transition period between Fogust & Slumptember.

Blistering heat the past several days has pushed water temps up past 80 degrees again after about a week in the low 70’s.

With water so low & clear a floro leader is a good idea when going after fish in a feeding presentation. These conditions have also concentrated the finny forage base with minnows dimpling the surface a great way to locate predators cruising nearby.

Once you find the bait a white tandem spinnerbait, chrome/blue Rat-L-Trap or 1/4 oz B-Fish-N Tackle Big Dude blade is a great way to hook up on multiple species of gamefish….and a 3″ WHITE twister tail will catch ’em too!

With so much food in the water active feeding windows are both short and frequent for bass, pike & white bass. The active feeding window for walleyes is also short–pretty much a half-hour at dawn and again at dusk. The channel ends of wingdams and rip-rapped upstream points of islands are great places to look.

When not actively feeding walleyes and saugers like to loaf over sand bottom with a moderate current in 9-13 fow. A controlled drift along this contour with a 1/8-1/4 oz jig or drop shot rig baited with a half-crawler is a good way to hook up.

Steeply breaking sandbar edges are holding a pile of bass right now. A chrome blue FLOATING ‘Trap is my go-too. Fish may be chasing bait in less than 1 fow–often requiring a long cast to hook up without getting hung up on a sandbar

Bluegills are on fire in 6-9 fow on steep, rocky breaklines.Pitching a 1/32 oz. jig and tiny pinch of crawler into about 4 fow and letting it “pedulum down” is a great technique. The bite will be quick and light when the bait is hanging vertical a couple inches off the bottom. Folks with gutter wino reflexes pretty much just feed the fish.

Weeds are just starting to become a factor on the River mainstem. It’s possible to get away from them by simply crossing the River or revisiting a spot you wanna fish a couple hours later.

Perch have been active in 2-4 fow in the weeds and along weed edges for a couple hours in the morning & evening. Crappies are already in the solid fall pattern of hanging 4-6 feet down in wood where there is at least 10 fow.

My new SEVIIN baitcasters should arrive tomorrow along with a purpose-driven St.Croix rod designed specifically for throwing blades.Christmas in August!!

Use EXTREME caution when navigating beyond the channel!!Sandbars wait just below the surface in spots where you’ve always been able to run willy-nilly.

Set up in at least 4 fow directly downstream and cast a ‘Trap between the willy and the nilly. Set the hook!

White birds diving on main channel rocks are a solid indicator of fish on a rampage right now. But not always!

A couple days ago I saw birds dipping and got over there quick, only to discover somebody’s picnic must have blown out of the boat. There were potato chips scattered across the water, hot dog buns and a package of Johnsonville brats.

I headed elsewhere after realizing it was just a couple terns for the wurst.

Fishin’ in Fogust

Fishin’ in Fogust

Heavy morning fog is a factor on the Miss about 80% of the time this month.It usually burns off 8-10 a.m. Navigating in pea soup is dangerous in an already dangerous environment. Launching at a ramp close to fishing spots is a good idea.

There is an absolute PILE of baitfish right now, with all species of gamefish dogging their every move. A lot of these fish are shad, so white or chrome baits 2-4″ lomg are very effective.

Your EYES are better than the best electronics now for locating active fish. Watch for birds dipping on structure on rocks. When you see them, get there fast, then sneak close using the trolling motor.

Keeping one rod rigged & ready with a 1/2 oz blade bait, white plastic fliptail or topwater lure like the Pop-R is a good plan.

The topwater feeding frenzy will pass in a minute or two. But it will usually return to the same area shortly. Following the frenzy as it moves along the face of a wingdam isn’t as effective as spot-locking where you first saw activity and waiting for fish to return.

Most of the time the action is white bass or SMB. But pike, largies…and even walleyes will likely be cruising nearby. In August i never fish deeper than 12’…usually less than 3′. Even for walleyes. Ever catch a walleye on a topwater bait? Now is the time!

With water temps still a solid 80 degrees fish metabolism is in overdrive. It is virtually impossible to reel faster than fish can swim. A burning retrieve is usually best when fish are actively feeding during Fogust!

Bull bluegills are staging on river mainstem rocks. Might find’em right on top of a wingdam or hanging tight to the upstream breakline where the bottom drops away from 2-8 fow quickly.

Apologies for not blogging in almost a month. Been fishin’ too hard. Just passed the 150 trip mark for 2023. More fun fishin’ than guide trips.

There are seasonal patterns on the River –like gills on wingdam rocks–that you know are coming every year. They happen when the River says its time. Even though i’m out there essentially 5 days w week it still takes at least an hour to decipher what the river is trying to tell me,

Sometimes it is election day and most of the fish feel like voting ‘no’. On these days the gamefish catch rate may be as low as 2 per hour. On a good day, 10 per hour–or more. The average day is 3-6, depending on the species.

Yesterday we put 10 species in the boat. 3-4 species is the average most days.

Taking what the River wants to give you is always more productive than a stubborn species-specific strategy.

The only reason I still guide is to share what more than a half-century on this water has revealed. There are quite a few open dates on the calendar for the next several months. Not actively seeking new business. I have nothing to prove to anybody, or myself. There is great peace in the knowledge that you are just part of the Immortal River for a short wink in time

Recent rain sets the bite on Fire!

Recent rain sets the bite on Fire!

Rain over the past several days has energized fish activity on pool 9. My favorite trips are those with young anglers with skills who want to hone their craft. had 2 such adventures last week–Trey & his buddy and siblings Blake & Lauren.

Trey is starting to get his feet wet on the tourney trail. Lauren is just 1 of 3 kids from Cheeseland to attend a major Trout Unlimited GTG in Montana. Her brother, Blake builds his own spinners as well as tying flies like his older sister.

both trips were multi-species. Trey’s crew had 26 gamefish on the clicker in a half day before rains raised the River; Lauren and Blake put 42 mostly SMB in the boat in 6 hrs.

Boat control is at least 40% of putting clients on fish. Angler ability is 55%. But the fish get to vote, too…and their 5% can cancel out everything else.

Reaction bites were key both before & after the rain. If I had a nickel for every fish that came up to the boat then eased away without biting it would be well beyond a fistful. but that’s fishin’

River level is lookin’ good @ just over 621′ @ Genoa, with stable levels forecast for the next 10 days. Water temp is a sultry 78 on the River mainstem. Fish–especially big ones– need to be revived after just a couple minutes out of their environment.

This means putting them in the livewell with that scaly face in the bubbles for at least a few minutes before release. Foto ops often double time prior to release.

Walleyes from 20-27″ must be released on pool 9. If one of these fish has dimensions that result in a foto op, they go ‘in the box’ until ready for a tail splashing release.

Game warden “Sprink” Hensal was a childhood mentor who said “you’ll never go wrong if you put the resource first”. This holds true for game wardens as well as sport fishers.

Doing the right thing for the resource ALWAYS supercedes the DNR. If a “carp cop” ever gives me a citation for reviving a fish prior to release saying ‘tell it to the judge” That is EXACTLY what i will do!

tight lines!

how low can She go?

how low can She go?

River levels in pool 9 right now are are low as they got last summer–and it’s ot even July! The lowest pool levels usually happen in mid to late August. A River stage of 620.1 @ Genoa now, projected to remain stable for the next week or so has the potential for going even lower.

There is only one positive in this equation–and it’s a good one. Extreme low water provides the opportunity to mark rock piles and other strucutre which will hold fish when the Immortal River rises again.

The largest obvious negative is hazards to navigation at essentially ANYWHERE beyond the channel markers.

Yesterday I eased in to a natural rocky structure which holds nice SMB at low pool, just as i have done 100 times before. This time the rocks redefined my prop a little bit. It still looks good for a river prop after 2 years of service, but will need some file work before today’s trip.

There are many, many MANY places in running sloughs where trailing ends of islands and mud flats upstream from backwater channels have gone from at least a couple feet to maybe 4″, creating serious potential for going from 30 mph to 0 in about 20 feet.

Low water also means clear water. Floro leaders are part of the matrix in finesse presentations. Directional change and pulsation are part of the retrieve when burning in a bait looking for a reflex strike.

Canadian wildfires have created a haze frequently on otherwise bright, sunny days which extends to active bite window at least another 30 minutes early and late in the day.

The active bite window is a real deal. Extreme low water has concentrated the gamefish BUT it has also concentrated the forage base. With so many young-of-year baitfish to choose from, why would a predator actively pursue dinner?

Essentially, all they have to do is open their mouths and eat. If you’re in the right orientation with a desirable lure when they decide to do so, you’ll hook up.

Case in point: A couple days ago walleyes weren’t even interested in willocats,despite optimum boat location on the ends of wingdams and steep structural breaks.

It was ‘one more cast’ time at mid-day at the end of a morning trip. The guys boated 4 eyes and lost 4 more in just 15 minutes. One was throwing a Rat-L-Trap, the other A Bill Lewis Echo 1.75 that only runs about TWO FEET deep, max!

A few years ago I wrote a story entitled “September bass and menopausal Women”…a subject which I have considerable personal knowledge about. When the non-male gender (there are just TWO options) goes through ” the change” , hormonal imbalance causes unpredictable mood swings which make absolutely no sense to the OTHER gender.

Just like a perfect September day when all habitat and environmental parameters seem perfect, but the fish don’t want to cooperate.

After 52 years of happy marriage I can also testify that when XX and XY chromosomal units get thru with “the change” most remaining , healthy days for the remainder of this union are happy, happy, happy!

Stay safe out there! Be prepared for self-rescue with a come-along, navy anchor and plenty of rope.

Summertime and the fishin’ is silty

Summertime and the fishin’ is silty

USACE predictions call for pool 9 below Genoa to ramin stable @ about 621′ for the next 10 days. We are already close to last year’s perpetual low level…and summer doesn’t even officially arrive until next week.

When spring flooding subsided it left another layer of silt in already silfted in backwaters. This incredibly rich soil is conducive to aquatic plant growth, making completely weedless presentations necessary in many backwater and quiet areas in running sloughs.

Hazardous navigation beyond the channel is pegging out near the extreme. Cuts between the mainstem and Minnesota slough like Sand slough (Dead man’s Cut) are mere inches deep in some places creating essentially a game of bass boat mumblety peg–going 60 to 0 in essentially 20′!

next week the high school national world championship bass tourney will be fishing out of LaCrosse on pools 7,8 & 9. Over 400 boats from all over the USA.

This massive field of bass boats coupled with inherent challenges of fishing the daunting Mississippi have combined into an intimidating scenario for all the young guns.

Several have sought advice and guidance. I have told all of them “Fish against the fish…the fish are your only competitor!” In this scenario the River is the balance point. Work with the River and odds tip in your favor. Work against her and the bass have a bigger edge.

At current River pool levels the mainstem and significant running sloughs are the best –and safest–bet for hooking up. Boat in the backwaters at your own peril. Should you opt to go there, go prepared.

I keep a navy anchor, 150 feet of towline and a come-along in the boat at all times when the Miss is running low and sleepy. I also carry plenty of water, MRE’s and BUG JUICE along with other safety items.

There is true potential in getting stuck and spending the night on the river if you don’t know where you’re going, and a genuine potential for bewilderment even if you’re out there almost every day.

The walleye bite has been good until 8 a.m. and between 7:30 and dark on rocky structures. Midway you can catch ’em ‘slidin sand” with a 1/8 oz jighead and a half-crawler working just beyond the channel along the 9-13′ contour.

Crappies are suspended in deadfalls about halfway deep in the water column where there is at least 10 fow around the snag. Bluegills are here too, just a little closer to the bottom. Bluegills are starting to show up on TOP of some wingdams. Perch in coontail weed in 1-6 fow.

Channel cats are most active in 7-13 fow in running sloughs above deadlfalls with a moderate current and hard bottom. Dipbait is the best way to catch ’em.

Like many River Rats I make my own stuff–Capn Ted’s Catfish Candy. I make just one 6 gallon batch a year for personal use. Some ingredients are truly proprietary–like a pint of my own blood collected over the winter before undergoing gut surgery. Shad flies and willocat are also part of the potion which has a cheese base and soybean oil to achieve acceptable consistency.

A limited supply is available at Willie’s Bait Shop in new Albin. Phone # 563.544.4223.

The old Trading post in blackhawk County Park has reopened under new management. Had biscuits & gravy there this morning. Darn good!

Be careful out there!

Weeds A Poppin’–Gettin’ Froggy with it

Weeds A Poppin’–Gettin’ Froggy with it

Pool 9 levels continue to drop and clear. Submergent vegetation is now emergent with American water lotus spreading across the surface and pencil reeds & sandgrass poking a foot above the water line.

All major boat ramps are now open. Some areas away from the channel have changed significantly as we approach normal summer pool levels. If projections hold we should see these conditions by late next week. Navigation in the backwaters should be done with caution. Today’s easy runnin’ is tomorrow’s drydock sandbar.

Punkinseeds have been on the beds for several days. ‘Gills have just started showing up. In some waters it is possible to sight-fish the nests. Not all LMB have spawned. About 50% of females were still carrying eggs as of June 1.
Water temp is 71-74 degrees.

Active bite has been before 7:30 a.m. or after 6 p.m. for essentially everything except pike & panfish. The closing dam bite has been great. wingdam action will improve with each day going forward–if USACE projections hold.

You might wanna go to a floro leader in finesse presentations in some of the backwaters and running sloughs.

My top walleye baits this past week have been the oxbow Trap, Z-Man Jackhammer chatterbait, B-Fish-N 1/4 oz. Big Dude & Z-Man eye strike w/Pulse R plastic.

Same baits working well for both SMB & LMB. You might try a buzzbait on humid days when static tension on the water surface is high…and, of course, the frog. Honestly, i don’t like frog fishin’. I’m a meat & potatoes guy. Green fish with a side order of salad not my thing.

For those folks just giddy with a blow up on a frog, you might try yer tongue on both terminals of a 9V battery. No bug spray or SPF 50 necessary AND you save $4.50 gal. on gas!

Lookin’ Good

Lookin’ Good

Many boat launches on pool 9 are at least marginally accessible w/pool levels stable @ 4′ above action stage til the end of May. “Wet foot’ policy will likely be part of the experience when launching.

Water clarity now is excellent. SMB have just completed spawn. LMB are TIGHT to cover along edges. Walleyes are active in 3-7 fow in running slough all over the map. Hot lures have been black/blue #Zman jackhammers, oxbow Rat-l-Traps & 1/4 oz. B-Fish-N tackle Big Dude blades.

Yesterday’s half-day trip produced 20 quality fish. Mixed bag of eyes, bass & pike. Pretty much the average over the past week or so, probably even better going forward.

Damn Minnesota! Been launching in Mn. recently. Drain plug must be removed when leaving the launch. Launched in Wi. yesterday. Run upstream 7 miles. Started fishin’ client in back of boat tells me his feet are getting wet. DRain plug which is attached on a wire is gone. Other client is hooked up with a nice ‘eye. Hit the bilge switch, netted the fish, scooted to shore.Pulled a spare drain plug out of tool box. Back to fishin’ in 5 mins—but the bilge kept pumping for another 20.

Other than the usual cuts & bruises only got hooked past the barb twice last week. Thankful both were in places where i could pull ’em out with pliers and get back to work after a little electrician’s tape 1st aid.

Available for hire May 24,25 & 31 this month. Next opening 6/18–Father’s Day. I plan on fun fishin’ after church , Lord willin’